October 26 2012 04:08PM
When we last checked in on the 2013 NHL Draft rankings, it was all about Nathan MacKinnon. The October rankings...haven't changed at all. He's still the number one player on the list and it's not close. Copper & Blue writer Alan Hull got to view MacKinnon in person in early October and though he thought MacKinnon had an off game, he did see the skill:
"He certainly showed that he does have high-level skills, though I didn't see anything on this night that I would classify as elite. Among his biggest assets, he has the ability to be strong on the puck and hold off defenders with his strength and he has some explosive speed when he wanted to show it, which unfortunately was not often enough on this night."
Hull's biggest criticism? A lack of attention to defense. Something that is nearly universal in young scoring centers:
As a centre, he needed to be down below the face-off dot much more often engaging in the team's defensive zone coverage. Instead, I found him to be staying too high, and at the first appearance of an opportunity for the Mooseheads to gain possession, he was gone...out towards the blue line and frequently beyond it hoping to lead the rush.
MacKinnon is one of three Mooseheads in the top 24 in this month's Consensus Rankings. The sources for the consensus list are Bob McKenzie, Future Considerations, ISS, Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus, and The Scouting Report.
October 18 2012 09:45AM
A dying breed?
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
A couple of days ago, I looked at draft pick origins by league. The most significant conclusion from that article concerned Eastern Europe:
The most obvious takeaway from the data is the slump from Eastern European leagues. In 2003 and 2004, leagues in Belarus, The Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Slovakia accounted for 19% of all picks. In 2011 and 2012 those same leagues accounted for just 5% and 4% of all picks. In fact, since 2007, those leagues haven't combined for more than 5% of all selections.
One possible explanation raised by commenters, is that the distribution of picks by nationality hasn't changed, rather the reason for the shift in league distribution is the sheer amount of imports playing junior hockey in Canada.
I sorted the data by birth country and found that explanation doesn't hold water either.
October 15 2012 03:51PM
Photo by Bri Weldon, via Wikimedia Commons
Lockout talk dominates every level of the hockey world, so we're doing our best to avoid it at all costs. My focus this week is on the NHL draft, specifically the last 10 years. I'll poke and prod the data in search of interesting conclusions and trends. After the break, I'll lay out the raw data.
October 12 2012 11:45AM
...begat Kovalev who begat...
Photo by Michael Miller, via Wikimedia Commons
This is the first installment of Trade Chains, a series which will take look at the legacy of trades throughout NHL history, but unlike Matthew 1:2, we'll spare you the begat. This is a numbers site, so we'll go with charts instead.
In 1984-85, the Pittsburgh Penguins were made up of Mario Lemieux and a series of players Mario Lemieux used as bumpers to deflect shots into the net. While Lemieux's rookie season was brilliant, it wasn't nearly enough to get the Pens out of the Patrick Division basement. They were the second-worst team in the league, and unlike the previous year, they didn't purposefully tank to get there.
The Penguins had the second overall pick in the 1985 draft and while they wanted the top-ranked player and ideal #2 center Craig Simpson, an 18-year old with two seasons of NCAA hockey under his belt, the Toronto Maple Leafs held the top pick. With the Leafs intent on taking Simpson, the Pens were likely to get a defenseman, either 2nd-ranked Dana Murzyn or 3rd-ranked Wendel Clark. But as luck would have it, Maple Leafs General Manager Gerry McNamara alienated Simpson's parents, leading Simpson to tell the Leafs to look elsewhere at #1. When the Leafs went for the truculent Clark, the Pens leapt at the chance to take Simpson, or as Pens' GM Eddie Johnston called him, the "impressive kid."
But Simpson wasn't the NHL scorer he was projected to be as he scored just 105 points in his first 169 games, leading the Penguins to trade him to him on November 24th 1987, along with Dave Hannan, Moe Mantha and Chris Joseph to Edmonton for all-world defenseman Paul Coffey and Dave Hunter. That trade would spawn eleven more trades and that trade lives on in Pittsburgh today.
September 21 2012 02:38PM
Photo by Ryan Meier, all rights reserved.
The 2013 NHL Draft order might have some excitement to it, excitement that's been stripped away of the last three drafts by the Edmonton Oilers and their grip on the worst. But with a possible season cancellation in the works, this draft might come down to the luck of a ping pong ball.